Enjoy The journey as well as the destination by taking your can so you can savour the breathtaking views as you journey through Scotlands’ Lochs and Glens. Care hire is available through Morar Motors and you are even able to drop your car off at different locations, if you are planning an onward journey.
Jacobite Steam Train (Hogwarts Express)
Justifiably described as the great railway journey of the world this 84 mile round trip takes you past a list of impressive extremes. It starts near the highest mountain in Britain (Ben Nevis), visits Britain’s most westerly mainland station (Arisaig), then passes close by the deepest freshwater loch in Britain (Loch Morar) and the shortest river in Britain (The River Morar). And finally arrives next to the deepest seawater loch in Europe – Loch Nevis. It’s a great way to spend a day!
Glenfinnan Viaduct and Jacobite steam train
The train does stop en route to Mallaig at the village of Glenfinnan where Bonnie Prince Charles raised his standard in 1745. After crossing the world famous 14 arch Glenfinnan viaduct, which has been used in the Harry Potter movies and offers wonderful views down Loch Shiel, the train stops at the station giving you time to stretch your legs and visit the Museum in the station buildings.
Beyond are the villages of Lochailort, Arisaig, Morar and Mallaig. On a clear summer’s day from Arisaig you can see the ‘Small Isles’ of Rum, Eigg, Muck, Canna and the southern tip of Skye. From there the train passes Morar and the silvery beaches used in the films ‘Local Hero’ and ‘Highlander’.
The final destination is of course Mallaig. Not only an access point to the Isle of Skye with Caledonian MacBrayne ferry but also a thriving fishing community. The West Highland Hotel offers stunning panoramic views from The Terrace Brasserie (inside or out). Guaranteed to get you back to your train on time.
Once You Are Here
These four islands, part of the Inner Hebrides, lie just off the west coast at the junction of the Sound of Arisaig and the Sound of Sleat. Unlike many groups each island is distinct and different in geography, agronomy, population and ownership. From Muck in the south, through Eigg with its tooth-like Sgurr, and Rum, mountainous and mysterious in the clouds, to Canna in the north, the Small Isles offer a wonderful variety of scenery, wildlife and lifestyle.
Quiz enthusiasts might like to know that the islands of Rum, Eigg & Muck were called the ‘Cocktail Islands’ or ‘Cocktail Isles’ by a newspaper journalist in the 1970s but the name is not in general use and is not used locally.
Isle of Eigg
In 1997, the islanders set up the Eigg Heritage Trust with the assistance of various bodies to buy the island which had gone through a troubled time with previous owners. Now owned by the Trust, Eigg offers a variety of scenery, wildlife and a get-away-from-it-all feeling for the visitor.
The dramatic Sgurr in the south can be reached by a variety of routes and gives superb views. Near its base is the Massacre Cave – scene of an infamous slaughter by clansmen from neighbouring islands during the Clan Wars. In the north is Largs Bay with its famous singing sands. Golden Eagles live on the high basalt cliffs to the north-east and the waters round the island are home to seals, whales, dolphins and otters. Isle of Eigg Craft & Produce Fairs are run in the community hall every Monday 12-4pm from 26 May – 25 August 2014. The island minibus has a timetable coinciding with all boats entering and leaving Eigg. Bike hire is available from Eigg Adventures.
Isle of Canna
Canna is the most westerly of the four Small Isles and covers 3000 acres. Previously owned by John Lorne Campbell, it was given to the National Trust for Scotland in 1981. The island is farmed by the NTS and has several working crofts and a small population of less than 15. The island has been a bird sanctuary since 1938 and the 157 different species of birds have been monitored annually since 1969. Canna has many sites of archaeological interest, including nine scheduled monuments, and has links to the Neolithic, Columban and Viking eras. The Canna Local History Group preserves information about the island’s history. The little church and St Columba’s chapel are both open to visitors. Connected to Canna by a wooden bridge is the tidal island of Sanday where St. Edward’s Chapel has been converted into the Camus Arts Centre (opened August 2013).
Isles of Canna and Sanday
Canna House (now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland) was once the home of Gaelic scholars, Dr. John Lorne Campbell and his wife Margaret Fay Shaw (who died on 11th December 2004 aged 101). She wrote her autobiography in 1995 ‘From the Alleghenies to the Hebrides’ and John Lorne Campbell published ‘Canna, the story of a Hebridean Island’. Over 1000 items from the Canna House sound and picture archives and can be found online at Tobar an Dualchais – Kist o riches. Canna House and Gardens can be visited during the summer on Wednesdays (1pm – 2.30pm) and Saturdays (4pm – 5.30pm). Access to the walled garden is free at all times. The new community shop offers gifts, handmade crafts and snacks. A percentage of the money raised goes back into the community fund and helps support projects based on Canna.
Isle of Muck
The smallest of the Small Isles group and the most fertile, Muck has a population of about 40, mainly living round the tiny harbour of Port Mor. It has been owned by the same family – the MacEwens – for over 100 years.
Port Mor, Isle of Muck Muck may be a small island, but it has a lot to offer and is an easy island to explore on foot. Muck is a great place to get away and relax, having wonderful quiet beaches, stunning landscapes and wildlife. Some of the sites include Beinn Airein (at 451 feet the highest point); Camus Mor, a designated Site of Special Interest (SSSI); Bágh, a renovated croft house with a turf roof; ‘A’chille’ (‘the old village’); Shell Bay- a bay of sea shells; and Caisteal an Duin Bhain – a prehistoric fortified rock. Whilst exploring the island visitors enjoy a wide variety of birds, including eagles; as well as seals around the seal colony, and some are lucky enough to see whales, basking sharks, porpoises and otters.
A selection of craft courses are available, including making a woven rug on a peg loom from island fleece. Basketry courses are held in May and September.
Muck has a wonderful Community Hall for islanders and visitors to enjoy. Facilities include a main hall with sports equipment, table tennis, meeting room, heritage area, library, toilets, shower and washing machine. Visitors are very welcome to join in activities and social events whilst they are on the island.
Seals, otters and ponies on the Isle of Muck
On the farm, there are hairy Luing cattle, a range of breeds of sheep, pigs, hens, and Highland ponies, with three brood mares and the impressive stallion, Strathmashie Seumas Mhor (Seumas). Highland ponies are available for sale.
The Craft Shop in Port Mor is the centre for both locals and visitors alike during Spring to Autumn, (open a few days per week April, May and September, and 7 days per week during June, July and August). The Craft Shop is a sympathetically renovated traditional black house serving freshly caught shellfish from around the island, and home baked bread, cakes and soups. A good selection of crafts and gifts are also available.
The Green Shed is stocked exclusively with items produced on the island, and boasts a large range of hand crafted goods, including felt animals, slippers, pictures and bags, handmade soaps, jewellery, re-cycled slate paintings, and painted buoys, many unique to Muck. The Green Shed also stocks local seasonal vegetables, and is open 24/7 on an honesty basis. Internet access and Wi-fi are available at both the Community Hall and The Craft Shop & Tearoom.
Isle of Rum
Bought by the Nature Conservancy Council (now called Scottish Natural Heritage) in 1957, Rum is one of Scotland’s finest National Nature Reserves. The island is a haven for a variety of birds and animals including sea eagles, deer, goats, otters, seals and many others, and provides a superb opportunity for detailed research.
The Community Trust Ranger Service offers guided walks and evening talks from April to October – telephone: 01687 462404. Visitors are welcome to follow the nature trails laid out around the village of Kinloch. The newly-built otter hide is situated along a path which is easily reachable from the ferry terminal (turn left at the top of the pier).
The Cuillins of Rum, with their Norse names – Askival, Hallival, Trollaval, Orval – lend an air of mystery to an island that was known as the Forbidden Island. These mountains are the remains of a huge, ancient volcano and attract geologists from all over the world. Rum was the site for the reintroduction of sea eagles in Scotland. The red deer research by Edinburgh and Cambridge Universities is one of the longest running studies of a population of large mammals anywhere in the world.
Once supporting a thriving community, Rum was ‘cleared’ to make way for sheep and deer and in the latter half of the 19th century was sold to the Bullough family who had made their money through engineering. They only used the island in the autumn for deer stalking and fabulous parties at the incredible Kinloch Castle which they built at the head of Loch Scresort on the north-east of the island.
Kinloch Castle, Isle of Rum Rum is a granite island but Kinloch Castle is made entirely of Red Sandstone from Annan. The luxurious castle with its ballroom, elaborate Great Hall and, for the time, unique and complicated showers, proved a wonderfully secluded venue for private parties with a glittering guest list. Seclusion and privacy were paramount and guns were often fired at approaching boats to discourage the curious – thus the ‘Forbidden Island’. Rumour and legend abound about the island and the Castle, but are little founded on fact. It is said, for instance, that the family must have tired of the island because after one visit they locked the doors and left never to return. However this is not true and various members of the family visited up until the 1950s when Lady Bullough gifted the island to SNH. It is also said that music and instruments were left by the stands in the musicians gallery in the ballroom, which seems very unlikely since the instruments would have belonged to the musicians rather than the family. They did however leave wine in the cellars.
Kinloch Castle, still as it was when the family left, is a perfect time capsule of Edwardian life, including superb furniture and fittings, a marvellous Steinway piano, Lady Bullough was a pianist, and one of the few operating Orchestrions, automated organs operated by paper-rolls, in the world. Guided tours take place daily during the summer season and also on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12.30pm over the winter. Telephone 01687 462037 to avoid disappointment.
The village has a shop / post office (tel: 01687 460 328) and there is a teashop in the newly redecorated Village Hall. Rum Crafts has a craft shop on the shoreline near the village.
Knoydart is a peninsula in the Lochaber district on the West coast of the Scottish Highlands. Situated between Loch Nevis and Loch Hourn, the peninsula comprises approximately 55,000 acres which today is divided up amongst a number of landowners, with the largest area managed by the Knoydart Foundation (click here for more information).
Knoydart is cut off from the UK mainland road network, thus meaning access can only be made either by boat Western Isles Ferry, Knoydart Sea Bridge or by foot. The rugged and remote landscape is one of the primary attractions of the area; and with four munros and numerous corbetts within the Knoydart boundary, hillwalkers flock from far and wide to make their ascents.
Inverie is the main settlement area and is home to over half of the full time residents (currently around 120). The village holds the majority of local amenities, including the Primary School, Post Office, Community Shops, Knoydart Pottery & Tearoom and The Old Forge pub; and is where the pier is located for boat access to and from the peninsula.
Western Isles Cruises offer unforgettable experiences that will live with you forever.
They operate a unique traditional wooden ferry service to Inverie and Tarbet on the Knoydart peninsular. We also have a 10 passenger fast Rib for private hire to get you to those remote places inaccessible by any other means.
The MV Western Isles has undergone an extensive refurbishments in 2014. Leather upholstery, a licensed whisky bar area downstairs, with ladies and gentlemen’s toilets you can actually visit without trepidation.
They also cater for Wedding, Parties, Corporate Events and private hire, and The West Highland Hotel can offer an outside catering service for your special experience.
Morar motors offers a comprehensive care hire service while you are in the area. One-way rental is available between our two Morar Motor depots at Kyle of Lochalsh and Mallaig – Hire from one and drop off at the other having explored all the places in-between!
One-way rental maybe available for further distances subject to enquiry.
Collection and Delivery is available to local train and ferry terminals and is free of charge during working hours.
Skye Tours offers a 4-5 hour Hour Fully Guided Mini Bus Tour of the Isle of Skye. With photo and comfort stops on the way. Catch the morning train from Inverness at 8:55am, arrive Kyle 11:30am. We pick up from from Broadford Post Office around 12:00pm.
The Isle of Skye is the second-largest Island in Scotland after Lewis and Harris. With some of the most dramatic mountain scenery in the UK. We will take you to see some of the best locations on the Island. The Island has been occupied since the Mesolithic period (7th millennium BC) and its history includes a time of Norse rule and a long period of domination by Clan MacLeod and Clan Donald. Marshal who will guide you around the Island is a native Macdonald, with ancestry going way back to viking times. Join us and we will show you the most beautiful parts of the Island.
The 18th-century Jacobite risings led to the breaking up of the clan system and subsequent ‘Clearances’ that replaced entire communities with sheep farms, some of which also involved forced emigrations to distant lands. Resident numbers declined from over 20,000 in the early 19th century to just under 9,000 by the closing decade of the 20th century. The ancient gaelic language is still spoken in some parts of the Island. The main industries are tourism, agriculture, fishing and whisky-distilling. The climate is mild, wet and windy. The abundant wildlife includes the golden eagle, sea eagle and red deer. We look forward to you joining us in 2016.